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The NewLife Blog

January 23, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Your money will not make you happy

The fourth chapter of “This is our time” is entitled Shopping for Happiness. In this chapter, Wax sets his sights on the American Dream and the goal that many of us have in our society to accumulate more money and stuff until we have everything we need and have reached a place of comfort and security. He argues that the longing for stability and comfort, where we can rest and enjoy the fruit of our labor, is a good longing. But the lie our culture is feeding us is that the goal of life is to accumulate more money and possessions, and that financial aspiration is a good primary driving force for our actions and choices. ...Keep Reading

Posted in: Culture Tags: Discipleship, Money

January 16, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

The pursuit of happiness

The third chapter of “This is our time” is entitled The North Pole and the Pursuit of Happiness. Wax begins the chapter by telling the story of the first expedition to the North Pole, which ended tragically because the common belief of cartographers (map-makers) at the time was that there was an open polar sea that would make it easy for a ship to reach the North Pole. Wax uses this story to illustrate how having the wrong map can lead to a tragic ending, no matter how sincerely you believe in that map. In the same way, the map of “the good life” given to us by our American culture is leading us tragically astray, whether or not we realize it. As the writer of Proverbs puts it, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12)....Keep Reading

Tags: Culture, Pursuit of happiness

January 9, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

What are the longings - and the lies - in the stories you are listening to?

The second chapter of “This is our time” is entitled Hollywood is after your heart. In this chapter, Wax examines a few of the common themes that show up in the stories, movies, and songs we see and hear in America. He contends that “we love a good story because we want it to be true. And the longings in many of our most beloved tales are true, good, and right.” As Christians, many of us are rightly asking questions of the content of what we consume: is there anything objectionable that is contrary to God’s will? But there are deeper questions to ask as well: what are the good longings in the stories we are consuming? What are the lies that need to be exposed? And how does the gospel provide the answer to the longings? ...Keep Reading

Tags: Hollywood, Stories

January 2, 2018 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

What lies is your phone telling you?

For the first two months of 2018, I will be using this space to interact with “This is our time” by Trevin Wax, a book that appeared on many “Best of” Christian book lists of 2017. In this book, Wax looks at the myths our culture teaches us, affirms the good longings underneath those myths, and then challenges those myths with the gospel. I believe this will be a good exercise for us in how to be discerning as we live in our world, so that we might be as Paul exhorted the Ephesian church: “Be very careful, then, how you live-- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17) The first chapter of “This is our time” is entitled Your phone is a myth-teller. In this chapter, Wax looks at the place smartphones increasingly hold in our lives and what they are telling us. If you own a smartphone, it is probably almost always within reach; you may even be reading this on your smartphone right now! The temptation to constantly check your phone, scroll through Facebook or Twitter, play mindless games, or click on your favorite app, is seemingly ever-present. And even if you don’t own a smartphone, hopefully this chapter will help you to understand how it is impacting the people in your world who do....Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, Smartphones

December 19, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Rest in peace, R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul, one of the spiritual and theological giants of our day, passed away last week at the age of 78. He was a pastor, a prolific author and speaker, founder of Ligonier Ministries, teacher on the radio program Renewing your Mind, and so much more. His best known work was his 1985 book The Holiness of God, which was a powerful treatise on God’s perfection and our standing as sinners in need of His mercy. In honor of Rev. Sproul, I wanted to share some of his best quotes in the hopes that they might help you to know and love God more:...Keep Reading

Tags: Discipleship, R.C. Sproul

December 5, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

If you were struggling in life, would you go to church?

I have been taking a class on substance abuse counseling this fall, and one of the assignments was to visit a couple of AA, NA, and Al-Anon meetings. I had always heard that these groups often succeed in creating the kind of atmosphere and community that the church is meant to display. My experience proved this to be correct, especially in one important way that I think is worthy of consideration. One of the ways the church goes wrong, especially with young people, is by preaching the “gospel of sin management” ...Keep Reading

Tags: Church, fellowship

November 28, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Is your church healthy?

One of the first questions that pastors tend to ask each other when they get together is, “How big is your church?” As pastors, it can be hard not to evaluate the job we are doing by the numbers ...Keep Reading

Tags: Church, Discipleship

November 21, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Helping without hurting

Over the next few weeks, our church will join with other area churches in collecting new, unwrapped toys for the Hartford City Mission Noah Christmas Store. The Noah Christmas Store is a store for parents of children in Hartford City Mission programs, where they can buy toys at a minimal “suggested donation” cost for their children for Christmas. In the Hartford City Mission flyer promoting this event to churches, they use the word “dignity” in describing what this opportunity affords low-income parents. It is worth reflecting on what that means....Keep Reading

Tags: Christmas, Service

November 14, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

How to raise a hypocrite

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a well-meaning pastor teaching on parenting. He was explaining how he and his wife teach their four pre-teen children to obey right away, all the way, and with enthusiasm. He then went on to declare, “Obedience is so important. After all, the gospel is all about obedience.” Objection, your honor! The gospel is NOT all about obedience....Keep Reading

Tags: Grace, Parenting

October 31, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Learning from the past

Today is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. One of the benefits of anniversaries such as these is the reminder that there is so much wisdom to be gained from people who have been dead and gone a long time. Christian booksellers are concerned with making money, and so they are always pushing the latest and greatest books on us. But a reasoned reflection ...Keep Reading

Tags: Prayer, History